There are a number of ways to move about New York City, from walking to driving or even taking the subway, but one of the most popular methods by far is to travel by cab, and even the cabs have variety, offering choice to New Yorkers who don’t want to pay for car insurance. There are green cabs, the typical yellow taxi, and the black livery cars, but none of these exclusively cater to women, and understandably, it’s a service that women want. For many, it’s a matter of safety, and for some, a simple matter of comfort, and soon, it will be a reality.
The service will be called SheTaxis (excluding New York City, where it will be called SheRides to avoid legal disputes), and will allow women to use an app to call for a special taxi driven by a qualified female taxi driver. The app will initially be available on Apple devices, launching on September 16th. An Android app is in the works, but no release date has been established. The app will ask if there’s a woman in your party and, if not, direct you to another service.
This is a huge step forward for citizens who feel uncomfortable with a male driver. The odds were formerly stacked against getting a female driver by chance since only 5% of all taxi drivers in New York City are female. Now that women will be able to break into the male-dominated industry, we should see an influx of female drivers.
Stella Mateo, wife of Fernando Mateo, founder of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, is starting the women’s livery service SheTaxis, and she couldn’t have chosen a better time. As the taxi-driving environment becomes safer and safer, more people are abandoning their New York car insurance for a more relaxing ride.
This new program will not only be beneficial to women who prefer a female driver, but also to drivers who prefer female passengers. There’s a good reason only 5% of New York’s taxi drivers are female. Female drivers are often discriminated against and harassed by male passengers.
SheTaxis won’t be building itself from the ground up, however, and will be partnering with existing companies to provide competitive rates and service. The small upstart itself has a staff of only 6, but 50 drivers have already been recruited to give the new service a leg to stand on.
This isn’t the first service of its kind, but it’s certainly the first of this scale in America, and Ms. Mateo is rightfully optimistic about the development of SheTaxis. Over the course of the next year, she hopes to expand into other major cities across America, including Chicago, Washington, and even Miami. The newly recruited drivers are already ranked among the best employees at their respective pre-SheTaxis companies.
Many members of the community have spoken out about this, all in support of the new service. Some are concerned for their own safety, some the safety of family. Some need a female driver for religious issues, and some simply want more polite clientele, but one thing is for certain: This option is certainly a step forward for female taxi passengers and drivers.